15 December 2015
The Employment Forum has recommended two important changes to the Employment Law to the Social Security Minister following a consultation earlier this year.
Compensation for employer failures
The first Employment Law change that has been recommended is that the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal should be given the power to award financial compensation to an employee for failures by their employer relating to written terms of employment, pay slips and statutory rest day entitlement. The Forum has recommended that, in each case, the Tribunal should be able to order the employer to pay a sum of up to four weeks’ pay to an employee, depending on the seriousness of the employer’s failure.
Chairman of the Employment Forum, Helen Ruelle, said “The current criminal penalties must be dealt with by the criminal Courts which is cumbersome and expensive. The option for an employee to ask a Tribunal to award compensation is more immediate and may provide the additional deterrent that is required to ensure that employers meet these fundamental requirements of the Employment Law. Employers in Jersey have been required to provide written terms of employment since 1992 and payslips since 1962 and so employers have no excuse for failing to provide the appropriate documents to their employees. These are straight forward requirements to comply with.”
Unfair dismissal and the two-thirds rule
The second change recommended by the Forum is that the ‘two-thirds rule’ should be removed from the Employment Law. This rule provides that employees working under fixed-term contracts of 26 weeks or less qualify for protection against unfair dismissal after having served two-thirds of their contract and subject to having worked for at least 13 weeks. This is much sooner than employees working under other types of contracts which is considered by some to be inequitable.
Helen Ruelle said “We have considered all of the evidence and, on balance, have decided to recommend that the rule should no longer apply. It appears that the rule is no longer effective in relation to its original purpose, which was to protect seasonal staff from losing entitlements to seasonal bonuses which were commonly paid at the time. The protection has not been relied upon in an unfair dismissal hearing in the ten years since the Employment Law took effect. It is also very easy for employers to circumvent the rule. There are some potential positives to removing these Jersey-specific restrictions around the use of fixed-term contracts; it may improve Jersey’s competitive position as a place to do business and the Forum was told that, for some employers, this would remove a hurdle to employing staff under fixed-term contracts.”
The Minister has advised the Forum that she accepts the recommendations and that she intends to request the proposed changes to the Employment Law.
The recommendation is available on this website and copies can be obtained by emailing the Employment Forum or from the reception of the Social Security Department.
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Call the Employment Forum on +44 (0)1534 447203.